What is Quadriplegia and is Recovery Possible?
Spinal cord injuries as a result of an accident damage the central nervous system (“CNS”). The central nervous system is found deep within the spinal canal and suffers catastrophic consequences when vertebrae, spinal cord, or disks sustain injury as a result of trauma. The spinal cord’s function is to allow every system in the body to function in perfect harmony. However, trauma resulting in permanent damage to the spinal cord can cause quadriplegia.
This article’s focus is on quadriplegia and the resulting medical care necessary for injuries that result in paralysis.
What is quadriplegia?
Quadriplegia is paralysis of all four limbs. This paralysis results in complete loss of quality of life. Accident victims who sustain this level of paralysis will require constant care for the rest of their lives. Many quadriplegic patients go on to recover enough to enter rehabilitation, allowing them to eventually return home. Rehabilitation and physical therapy for paralysis is intensive and financially devastating. Personal Injury lawyers handling these cases must have experience in recovering high dollar verdicts. Without maximum compensation, clients with paralysis may never be able to afford necessary medical intervention.
What is the purpose of the central nervous system?
The spinal cord carries nerve signals between the brain and the rest of the body, regulating everything from breathing and digestion to speaking and memory. These signals also have control of bodily sensation (hot, cold, sensation of touch). The CNS controls a person’s ability to walk, move, and use all four limbs.
In some cases warranting it, doctors are now turning to spinal cord stimulators. These devices are surgically placed in an effort to restore varying levels of sensation to quadriplegic patients’ limbs. They do not promise full function, nor do they work for every patient. However, many patients are willing to give them a go, simply because they are providing a great deal of hope.
What are spinal cord stimulators?
When an accident affects the spinal cord to the point of quadriplegia, doctors are now using spinal cord stimulation to attempt restoration of some sensation to the limbs. Spinal cord stimulators are a relatively new technology, and thus not a guarantee for full recovery. However, some quadriplegic patients are having successful outcomes that involve moderate restoration of sensation to the limbs. Spinal cord stimulators, as a tool in combination with rehabilitation, offers a promising future for injuries resulting in varying levels of paralysis.
Mayfield Clinic, experts in the field of Spinal Cord Stimulation and the accompanying surgical procedure explain the device:
“[…]A spinal cord stimulator (SCS) device is surgically placed under your skin and sends a mild electric current to your spinal cord. A small wire carries the current from a pulse generator to the nerve fibers of the spinal cord. When turned on, the SCS stimulates the nerves in the area where your pain is felt.”
As per Mayfield Clinic, spinal cord stimulation is allowing doctors to attempt to provide pain relief to patients as well. These devices are step forward for patients who, at one time, had no hope of every taking steps again. The devices are also promising for those patients who, despite paralysis, are left in a great deal of pain post accident.
What accompanies recovery from spinal cord injury?
After an accident affects the spinal cord resulting in quadriplegia, the pain that accompanies the injury is unbearable. It’s a common misconception that, because a patient suffers paralysis, they do not feel any pain from their injuries. This is simply untrue. Spinal cord injuries are painful. Usually, a spinal cord injury results in broken vertebrae in the spinal column. As a result, the patient suffers the pain of broken bones in areas that maintain sensation.
Even patients who suffer quadriplegia and lose all sensation in their four limbs suffer emotionally. In these cases, “invisible injury” occurs in conjunction with visible physical injuries. Depression, mental anguish, and PTSD follow injuries of this magnitude. Quadriplegia leaves patients without any quality of life, and this can possibly be a permanent way of life. Losing the ability to care for oneself is devastating physically and mentally.
What is the legal side of injuries resulting in quadriplegia?
When a client suffers quadriplegia due to an accident, Personal Injury lawyers consider this a catastrophic event. Quadriplegia can be the result of any injury that causes the spinal cord a direct blow. Car accidents, falls from high places, and acts of Negligent Security resulting in the client suffering a blow to the spine from a gunshot all require expert litigation.
In all of these cases, recovery on the medical side must come first. When a victim suffers paralysis, years of recovery may lay ahead. In these cases, a victim cannot return to work, and lost wages result. This is why consultation with a lawyer as quickly as possible after medical stabilization is so important.
Aside from recovery on the medical side, the family must focus on financial recovery on the legal side. This involves seeking out a law firm that has the qualifications and experience necessary to take on complex cases.
How do Personal Injury lawyers take on insurance companies in paralysis cases?
The insurance companies will never admit the necessity of quadriplegia patients requiring lifetime care. That’s because due to the amount of care necessary, the care is costly. Lengthy hospital stays, home care, rehabilitation and physical therapy all cost the insurance company more than they want to pay. Insurance companies have a track record of refusing trauma victims rightful compensation. When the insurance company refuses to offer a sufficient settlement, a Personal Injury lawyer must see the case all the way to trial.
How are Personal Injury lawyers providing better quality of life for clients?
Being able to maintain any quality of life after an accident requires the patient to be financially able to do so. When a Personal Injury lawyer attempts to recover maximum compensation, it’s to provide a better quality of life for the client. Sometimes cases must go all the way to trial to achieve a favorable result. In cases of quadriplegia, a settlement offer that is too low simply will not do.
The best Personal Injury lawyers know that no dollar amount is enough to fully restore the client’s quality of life. However, with the maximum compensation available to the client, they can go on to receive all medical intervention necessary to, hopefully, allow them to get back to enjoying time with family and friends.